Prime Minister Narendra Modi posed some tough questions to the security establishment, particularly the Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, during his visit to the Pathankot airbase on Saturday, days after six terrorists were neutralised there in a fierce gun battle, which lasted over 80 hours.
Mr. Modi, accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, was reportedly disturbed by the lax security apparatus at the defence installation, a senior government official told The Hindu .
The IAF personnel admitted to the lapse in security, the official claimed. Though none of the assets like fighter jets could be targeted by the terrorists, the fact that they were parked at a five-minute walk, from the point where the attackers entered the airbase was a cause for concern for the Prime Minister, the official said.
As reported by The Hindu earlier, the terrorists entered the airbase early morning on January 1 itself, much before the alert was sounded. They climbed a tree, snipped the barbed wire along the perimeter wall and hid among the shrubs on the premises, according to the analysis of the tower location of the snatched mobile phones of former Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh and his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma. Terrorists first opened fire on five unarmed Defence Security Corps personnel at 3.30 a.m. on January 2.
“He asked the IAF personnel multiple times, how it was possible for the terrorists to enter the airbase? He said it was a big security lapse and should not have happened,” said another official.
Mr. Modi also shot down a proposal by the Army to pull out BSF forces from the ‘peaceful eastern border with Bangladesh’ and redeploy them as ‘second line of defence’ along the Punjab border, said an official.
“Army officials were of the view that since nothing much was happening on the eastern border except cattle smuggling, the forces should be sent to the Punjab frontier instead. The PM did not concur with this proposal,” said a senior official.
The Prime Minister was also informed that unusually the terrorists were carrying “mortars.” Officials said it was due to this that the terrorist (one or two, still not known) who took position in the airmen’s billet, could continuously attack the security forces, engaging them for almost 60 hours.
Modi didn’t fault NSG deployment
Personnel at the IAF airbase in Pathankot told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday that the route the terrorists took had not been established.
While abducted jeweller Rajesh Verma had said he heard terrorists talking among themselves about a device with a “blue line”, the agencies had not been able to recover it from the rubble of the blown-up building or from the bodies of the four terrorists.
The official said the Prime Minister posed no questions on the decision to deploy the NSG commandos instead of the Army.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Pathankot airbase on Saturday to take stock of the situation after recent terror attack.
- » The PM spent around 90 minutes at the airbase and later did an aerial survey of the border areas in Punjab.
- » The spate of terror attacks in Punjab including the July 27, 2014 attack on Dinanagar police station, was discussed at the meeting.
- » Modi repeatedly asked the IAF personnel how it was possible for the terrorists to enter the airbase, implying that it was a big security lapse.
- » The PM was told that due to heightened security along the Jammu border, terrorists were choosing the Punjab border to infiltrate.
- » Modi shot down a proposal by the Army to pull out BSF forces from along Bangladesh border and redeploy them as a "second line of defence along the Punjab border".